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Before Fountain City Park Became a Knoxville Park, Stormwater Engineers Were Giving TLC to the Lake 
Last month, City Council approved the recommendation by Mayor Indya Kincannon's administration that the City accept the Lions Club’s offer to donate Fountain City Park and Lake.

It's a true partnership: Mayor Kincannon thanked the Fountain City Lions Club for its tender care of the park for five decades, and the Lions will continue to be involved with the park. The Fountain City Lions Club has expressed appreciation to the City for providing the financial support needed to maintain these beloved and iconic 8 acres.

Taking over management of the park represents a $1 million short-term City investment - and most of that has been the patient, diligent stewardship of City stormwater engineers in repairing the Fountain City Lake ecosystem.

It's taken some time, but the spring-fed Fountain City Lake appears to be healthy again.

Fountain City Lake - December 2020

At the forefront of a seven-year effort to right the lake's ills has been David Hagerman, the City's Stormwater Engineering Manager. He sees managing water quality as a marathon, not a sprint.

"You don't just flip a switch and everything is fixed," he says. "An ecosystem can change with temperatures, weather and human activity.

"It's never 'mission accomplished.' Protecting water quality requires constant monitoring and sometimes intervention. We're on this journey forever."

The City has invested more than $750,000 over the past seven years to restore Fountain City Lake. There were major water-quality problems, caused by stagnant water, thick algae, invasive weeds and too many waterfowl. More recently, vandalism.

First, the City fixed a leak in the lake’s earthen berm so that the lake’s water levels could be managed. Then the fountain and pump house were repaired to properly aerate the water. 

Wetlands were planted to remove shallow, stagnant areas that were conducive to algae growth. Thick layers of muck and duck feces, algae and invasive plants have also been removed from the lake.

One measure of success? For three years, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has offered winter trout fishing at Fountain City Lake. TWRA stocks catfish in the lake in the summer. That would not have been possible if the lake was choked by algae and invasive species, which it was just a few years ago.

Winter trout fishing at Fountain City Lake 2020

Hagerman acknowledges some setbacks, mostly caused by people: The wetlands have been vandalized, twice, and partially destroyed, and visitors continue to overfeed the waterfowl, which prompts their overpopulation and the lake's excess in duck feces.

Worse, the birds often are not fed the proper diet, offered at lakeside feed dispensers. Bringing in cat and dog food, or stale bread, and feeding it to the waterfowl actually harms their health.

"We've made a lot of progress," Hagerman says. "But frankly, the avoidable setbacks caused by human behavior have been disappointing."

Damaged wetlands - December 2020
Damaged wetlands, photographed last winter

The 2021-22 City budget also includes $250,000 to improve the Fountain City Park playground, including bringing it up to Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards. New funding also will improve the walking path through the park.
Posted by evreeland On 29 July, 2021 at 9:44 PM